Saturday, November 16, 2013

Best expat havens in Thailand

“Thailand is one of the world’s most popular locales for good living abroad,” says writer Heather Van Deest, who has lived there with her family for the past eight years. “For pennies on the dollar expats gain a year-round tropical climate and access to modern comforts and conveniences, including affordable, high-quality medical care.”

Thailand offers every type of lifestyle for expats to choose from—ranging from beach or mountain living to cosmopolitan cities. According to a recent report, on a budget of around $1,800 including rent, a couple can live well anywhere in the country.

The report focuses on 5 top choices for expat living in Thailand.

“You’ll often hear newcomers express their surprise at how easy it is to acclimatize, to find First World comforts while still enjoying all the excitement of life in Asia…where ancient temples, golden Buddhas, and colorful markets are part of daily life,” says Van Deest, who lives in Bangkok—one of the five havens on the list.

Bangkok has flourished into a modern and surprisingly cosmopolitan city, with gleaming skyscrapers, luxury hotels, and world-class public-transit options. Today, the report reveals, expats flock there for the multicultural vibe and high-on-convenience, easy on-the-wallet living.

The city’s large concentration of foreigners, or farang means there’s no shortage of social clubs and activities for interests as varied as tennis, language study, and theater. Bangkok is home to many of the country’s top doctors and private hospitals, and local expats say they appreciate the astonishingly affordable costs for top-quality care. A specialist typically charges less than $50 for a consultation.

Renting in Bangkok is affordable too. In the suburbs, a three-bedroom, three bathroom home with 2,580 square feet near shopping options and an international school rents for $1,000 a month.

Located near the foothills of northern Thailand, an hour’s flight from Bangkok, Chiang Mai is popular for those seeking a calmer way of life and a more temperate climate. Expats who live there, the IL report reveals, have access to all of the modern conveniences and comforts of daily life, at some of the most reasonable prices in Thailand.

Many Chiang Mai expats live near the city’s center, where a one-bedroom apartment will rent for as little as $250 with a year’s lease. A furnished, two-bedroom, one-bathroom condo close to the night bazaar and with views of the Ping River goes for $485 a month.

For beach-living, the report recommends Phuket.

“Nothing quite prepares you for the beauty of Phuket, especially when approaching the region by air…the sparkling, turquoise waters and jungle-topped mountains, the rocky outcrops and white-sand beaches. The country’s largest island is paradise for many expats,” says Van Deest.

Phuket offers an easy-going lifestyle, or a club-hopping, center-of-the-action one, depending on your preference. “But the biggest draw for many expats is the comfortable, convenient lifestyle.”

Phuket’s expats live in a variety of towns and villages.

“Whatever your budget, there’s something for everyone. A two-bedroom, two-bathroom villa with a pool, just a five-minute walk to Kamala Beach, rents for $647 a month. Sacrifice beach views and you can rent a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home with 1,500 square feet for as little as $485 a month to the island’s north, near Nai Yang Beach,” Van Deest explains.

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